Spring Clean Your Spiritual Life
With the warmer weather moving in and spring announcing her arrival, I do a clean out of my closet. Out goes warm winter jackets and boots and clothing that does not fit me and in comes what is more appropriate for the season I am in and the person I am at the moment. It is a very cleansing process, as I examine each item and consider how it works with me and get rid of what should not be there. Like clothing that no longer fits, is out of date, threadbare, is no longer the look I am going for, or simply should not have been in my closet in the first place. When finished, I feel like a different person, ready to take on the summer.
While we are at it, there are so many parallels to our spiritual life that we are going to work on a clean out of our “spiritual closet” at the same time. Our personal “stuff” that hangs around in our hearts and minds that no longer fit with the person we are.
- OUT should go: that which is not part of who we are now. The old person with its attitudes and behavior that did fit with us at one time, but no longer fits with the new person we are in Christ.
- INTO our lives comes new attitudes and behavior that is more in line with what Christ has revealed to us in the word and who we are in Christ. It is exactly what Paul describes in Eph 4:22-24 and what is our key verse in this bible study:
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. “
That phrase highlighted above “put off your old self” is equivalent to taking something old from your closet, giving it away and never being able to put it on again. It is forever gone out of the closet of your soul. It does not matter where the source of that old thing comes from, but it no longer fits who you are, or the person you are becoming. In this study, we are going to explore what these thought patterns and attitudes are, the wrong beliefs and behavior that more appropriately fits with the person who did not know Christ in a personal relationship.
When we decide what needs to go there are three things we need to remember:
- Cleaning out means identifying what really needs to go.
Here the Holy Spirit is our assistant, our own wardrobe consultant! Who, as we put on that item of “clothing” one last time, convicts our heart and says: “That really has to go!” He says no to attitudes like selfishness, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, gossip, fear, feeling insecure and regret about the past. He says these have to go, because they do not fit with the new life that you are going to live. There is no place for them in your spiritual closet.
The way scripture describes it is “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin “ (Rom 6:6). That “body of sin” is not the human body, but our old sin-loving nature inherited from Adam, a nature which we previously happily used to co-operate with. In Col 3:5 Paul tells us to “put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature,” and in Col 3:8 to “rid yourselves” which is the same as to put something down and push it away from yourself. Now, as the Spirit shows us what really needs to go out of our nature, the Spirit Himself empowers us to get rid of it, as we step out in faith and declare that we are no longer like that. We step out to make the change regardless of the cost or pain involved.
- There is also no hiding them in the bottom drawer.
So many of us when we are just on the verge of victory, will draw back from becoming the new person Christ has called us to be, because it costs too much. We stop just before we have won. We never really experience the new transformation that our new life is going to bring us, because we do not finally get rid of those thinking and attitudes that belong to the previous life. We happily slip into that old piece of clothing and continue to comfortably live in our old way of life, because change is too difficult and costs too much. This is that change that you know God wants you to make, that you know needs to happen, but you neglect to make the change.
I have a friend that believes that when the Holy Spirit first shows you behavior to change, and you then embrace that change in quick obedience, there is extra power from the Spirit, to bring about the change. Change is easy. But if you neglect to change, and employ a stubborn heart, she believes it gets harder as that sin grips your heart. I think she is right because I have seen new believers quit harmful behavior quickly, and equally seen old believers unable to quit that same behavior because it is hard. Make a decision to get rid of it once and for all, not letting it hang around in your bottom drawer. The longer it is there, the harder it becomes to get rid of it.
- Don’t like how we look in the mirror
Ever had this happen: you are wearing a new outfit and a person in your life delivers some form of critique. Immediately, you begin to dislike your new outfit. The same happens in our spiritual lives. We put on our new clothing in Christ, then someone (influenced for evil) from our old life, or old way, uses a mirror to shout out something that is contrary to the Word of God. It causes us to question our understanding of this new life in Christ. We immediately doubt this new life we have started and before we know it, we have changed back into our old clothes.
Never thinking that the enemy of our soul purposefully attacks us so as to prevent us from achieving victory in our lives and living out this new life in Christ. Sometimes, his ugly attack will cause us to totally give up the momentum we have and stay as we once were. We need to wake up to who is holding the mirrors up in our lives? Are they persons who are excited about the new person we are becoming? Even so, perhaps we ourselves are holding up a mirror that is not based on the Word of God and giving critique upon ourselves that breaks down the new person we are. For example, we may speak condemnation over ourselves when scripture tells us otherwise (Romans 8:1).
If we are going to clean out our spiritual closet, we need to make a decision to change regardless of the cost, the pain, or whatever else may come this way. We have to choose to get rid of the old stuff, our hang-ups, wrong thinking, bad habits and fleshly tendencies. These things block the true expression of our new identity in Christ, we need to bag it in a black bag and get rid of it.
We need to get rid of it so that it is so far away, that to try to get it back must be near impossible and the process we have undergone to be a new person, cannot be undone in any way.
Col 3:8-11 in the Message bible tells us more:
“It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.
Deliberately decide to change, lay aside or put away all attitudes, behavior and thinking that don’t please God or adversely affect your walk of faith. Choose to embrace “new spiritual clothing” which is more in line with what God is presently doing in your life.
He has designed it for your new life, with His label on that says: “My Child.”
Father, as I look at the spiritual wardrobe of my heart, I realise that I have not always walked around in the clothing You have given me. Instead I have worn wrong attitudes, old behaviors and thinking that do not suit me. Your Spirit reveals thinking and attitudes that are out of date because You have opened my mind to a new understanding in your Word and now, I know better. Help me examine my life and get rid of anything that I am still holding onto, or that does not fit with who I am in Christ and does not serve the purpose of God in my life. I will no longer hold onto old ways, patterns or attitudes that keep me on the edge of experiencing victory and not moving on to experience real change in my life. I strip these off, bag and lay in the fire anything that is a hindrance to walking in all that God has planned for my life.
- Look at Ephesians 4:22, the old self is “being corrupted by its deceitful desires“. What are the deceitful desires that play, or used to play a role in your life before? (Eph 4:17-24) Would you say that you have changed, that people would be able to say that you live as a “child of the light” now (Eph 5:8)? If you have been a believer for a number of years, are you still changing? Is parts of your old self still dying off, or do you still have some characteristics that you have not shaken?
- Living the Christian life is a process, although we have a new nature, we don’t automatically think good thoughts and express good attitudes when we become believers. We still struggle with our sinful nature. What aspect of your life right now is not reflecting who you have become in Christ? (Language, attitude, un-forgiveness etc) Looking back over the last year, do you see a change for the better in your thoughts, attitudes and actions? Change may be slow as you trust God to change you, but are you sure you have not stagnated? Read Romans 6:6-11 and 8:9
- What old habits have you NOT walked away from, having let them slip back in? Did you put enough distance between you so that you are not caught off-guard and repeating the same behavior? How can you “bag” this old thing and get rid of it permanently?
- When last have you cleaned out your physical wardrobe? Sometimes an action in the physical, helps us with action in our spiritual lives. Why don’t you purge your closet and bless someone with clothing? Who knows, right now, they may be praying for new clothes.
Next: Mind the Attitude
Who Are We In Christ
The State of our Identity in Christ
Be Kind to the Future Me